Tag Archives: dairy free

Fall Colors on My Plate

Quinoa with curried carrot and chard

Quinoa with curried carrot and chard

My focus this Fall has been to create simple, hearty and nourishing meals that I can make in large batches and eat leftovers for at least a couple of meals. I’m noticing a certain pattern emerge when I need to cook this way. There’s a gluten free grain like quinoa, millet or rice that I cook separately. And I sauté whatever vegetables I have in the fridge. A bowl of the grain and sauteed vegetables, usually curried in some way, and a hard boiled egg makes for a very satisfying meal.

The awesome thing about cooking this way is that it gets much easier to accommodate food allergies! This dish is gluten free, soy free, dairy free, and FODMAP friendly for those with fructose malabsorption or fructose intolerance.

And this is absolutely my favorite way of making carrots!

So if you’re getting pampered with spectacular food or just over indulging at holiday parties, here’s a dish that looks stunning, tastes great but is also good for you. I must admit that my problem this holiday season has not been the food so much as the wine! Got any tips for me?

Curried Carrot And Chard Over Quinoa

Serves 4

  • 1.5 cups quinoa
  • 10 oz grated carrot (or 3/4 lb carrots, grated)
  • 1/2 bunch chard, sliced into 1/2 inch shreds
  • 1/2 piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 dried red chilis, ends removed and cut into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 10 fresh curry leaves (optional, I didn’t have any but it adds a lovely earthy aroma and taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice (or lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste


Put the quinoa, 2 cups of water  and a big pinch of salt in a pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low, covered for 15 minutes or till the quinoa is cooked.

Heat the oil in a skillet or pan over medium high heat till you see ripples on the surface. If the oil is hot enough, a mustard seed thrown in will sizzle. Sizzle the whole spices for just 15 seconds or till the mustard seeds start to pop.

Add the ginger and garam masala and stir for 10 seconds. Immediately mix in the carrot and chard and cook for 2 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add 1/3 glass of water, and cover the skillet. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes or till the carrot is cooked.

Stir in lime juice and salt to taste.

Form quinoa cakes by pressing some cooked quinoa into a small and flat bowl; ramekins are perfect. Upturn the bowl onto a plate and voila, you have a quinoa cake. Place some of the curried carrot and chard on the quinoa and serve. Or if you are eating by yourself and don’t care about presentation, just mix it all up in a bowl like a quinoa salad.

Quinoa salad fodmap safe and gluten free

Quinoa salad

Sauteed carrot and chard on a bed of quinoa

Sauteed carrot and chard on a bed of quinoa

1 Comment

Filed under America, India, Recipe

Thankful for Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is over but that certainly does not mean that Pumpkin Pie season is over.

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving with friends and instead of turkey, made Fondue Chinoise, a holiday tradition in my husband’s family. This is a meat fondue where you cook individual slices of meat in hot broth and then dip into one of many yummy sauces. Typically Fondue Chinoise is served with veal and pork and the sauces usually involve cream. We changed things up a little by adding chicken, fish and shrimp and making a couple of sauces that I could eat. We had a mediterranean sauce, a South Indian sauce that was essentially coconut chutney, and a homemade mayonnaise with freshly ground black mustard among others. After a three hour feast and plenty of wine, there was still the apple crumble my friend made to look forward to. Did I mention I love thanksgiving!

So the next day, we had planned on eating lightly. However, I had a hankering for pumpkin pie. After some research and finding this pumpkin pie recipe, we gave it a try. It was soft, spicy and just made my day. The fact that the pie didn’t have a crust bothered me slightly but it also meant that it was much less work. It was already quite dark by the time the pie was baked and we just had pie for dinner! And unfortunately it was too dark to get any decent pictures. One of these days, I’ll get around to experimenting with a gluten and dairy free crust that I can eat. In the meantime, I wanted to share this recipe, bad pictures and all, as soon as possible especially with those of you who, like me, have a lot of food allergies. Life is so much better when you can eat pumpkin pie!

dairy free gluten free no crust pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie that I can eat!


no crust easy fodmap pumpkin pie recipe

Yay for pumpkin pie season

Crustless, dairy free, gluten free pumpkin pie

Adapted from gluten free easily’s recipe

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 can (16 oz) unsweetened pumpkin puree or 1 cup of homemade puree
  • 1/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup almond milk


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 inch pie dish with oil (or butter if you can eat it). Mix together all the ingredients and pour into the pie dish. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for another 25-30 minutes or till a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

*I used regular table sugar or sucrose since I can handle it in small quantities. Please note that I don’t like my desserts too sweet and vastly reduced the amount of sugar used. I’ll be reducing the sugar to 1/4 cup the next time I bake this pie. For those on a FODMAP diet, you can try substituting with dextrose or glucose.








Filed under America, Holiday, Recipe

Naanstop Yum

gluten free dairy free yeast free stove top naan recipe


I made this naan three days in a row. I couldn’t stop. It was so good. Perhaps it was because I haven’t had any regular naan in three months due to food allergies. Or perhaps it was the thin slices of spring shallots from the farmers market that made them so flavorful. Whatever it was, they were naanresistable. What was that? Too many naansensical puns? OK OK I’ll stop. But only if you promise to give this recipe a try!

If you hadn’t made it yourself, you might not even have realized that they are not made with wheat. Oh by the way, there is also no dairy or yeast. Best of all, this is an instant dough. You don’t need to wait for it to raise.

This is starting to sound like an infomercial, isn’t it? But wait, make this naan in the next 24 hours, and you will lose weight.

He he. What can I say, I’m just happy to be eating naan again!

Printer friendly recipe

Naan ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free flour
  • 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill finely ground Tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (you can substitute lime juice)

Topping (optional but recommended)

  • Thinly sliced shallots or garlic
  • Cumin seeds


Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir all the wet ingredients. Now make a well in your flour and pour in the wet ingredients. Knead till you achieve a smooth and soft dough that doesn’t stick to the bowl. A lot depends on the size of the eggs. If you cannot bring the dough together at all, add a couple of tablespoons of warm water and try again. If the dough is too wet, add another tablespoon or two of the gluten free flour. Smear some oil all around the ball of dough also helps to work with it. I also recommend slightly oiling the cutting board, rolling pin and your hands as the dough is quite sticky. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. These naans are about half the size of the regular ones.

Smooth out each ball of dough and flatten in your palms before placing on the board. Roll out gently and stop when you have a 3 inch circle that is about a centimeter thick. This is a good time to sprinkle your toppings on. Continue rolling out gently until you have a 5 inch circle. Instead of rolling it out all the way, I personally found it easier to simply pick up the naan half way and stretch it out like pizza dough by rotating it in the air like a disc. Try it both ways a couple of times and I think you’ll get the hang of it. If your dough is not too stretchy, your flour to egg ratio was slightly too high.

Roll out all the naans at least mid way and cover with a slightly damp towel. Spread high heat oil on a cast iron skillet. Heat over medium heat till it just starts smoking. Have some oil on hand as you will need to smear a teaspoon of oil in between batches.

Once the skillet is ready, gently lift the naans and place 2-3 or how many ever will fit on the skillet. I like to put the side of the naan down that does not have the toppings. In a few seconds, you should see the bubbles forming. This is a good sign. Turn over the naan and let the other side cook when you see a few dark spots. After a few minutes, you might need to lower the heat slightly if your skillet starts smoking too much. Make all the naan and place in a single layer on a plate and cover. Once all of them are done, smear them with some olive oil, butter or ghee. I like to use ghee (clarified butter), since it has great flavor and with the dairy solids removed, I can eat it.

For best consistency, use a cast iron skillet and make sure that it is slightly smoky at all times.

I served the naan with just mint chutney once and they were delicious and all gone in 10 minutes.

Let me know how this recipe works out for you. And if you took a picture, post it on the facebook page please!

soft naan gluten free dairy free yeast free


Filed under India, Recipe

Do You Love Black Eyed Peas Too?

I told someone the other day that I had black-eyed peas for dinner. She gave me a funny look. It took me a few seconds to get why.

But seriously, I love black-eyed peas. The legume.

It was one of those evenings when I didn’t have very much on hand in the crisper. Just an avocado, some butter lettuce, a bit of cilantro and some green chilies. I also wanted something light that wouldn’t take too long to cook. Thankfully, I spied a can of black-eyed peas, just waiting to be opened. And of course, I knew exactly what I was going to make: Indomexican “tacos’ with a South Indian style curried black-eyed peas in corn tortillas or lettuce.

This dish is for those who want something fresh and tasty. And quick.

Oh and this dish happens to be gluten free, dairy free, soy free and is perfect for Meatless Mondays.

south indian tortillas with black eyed peas, coconut chutney, butter lettuce

A South Indian taco

Printer Friendly Recipe


  • 1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed
  • 2 small green chiles, chopped
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 5-10 curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Juice of ½ lime or lemon
  • 3 tablespoons shredded coconut
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Corn tortillas or lettuce (I used butter lettuce, but others will work too)
  • 1 avocado, sliced


Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When you see ripples on the surface of the oil, drop in a mustard seed. If it sizzles, the oil is hot. Sizzle the mustard seeds and curry leaves for just 10 seconds. Be careful as the oil will splash.

Saute the onion and chiles until the onion is slightly brown, 5-10 minutes.

Add the black-eyed peas and mix well. Turn off heat.

Stir in the coconut, cilantro and lime juice.

Serve with coconut chutney, avocado slices and tortillas or lettuce. Wrap and enjoy.

Note to self: Need more black-eyed peas in my life. 

stone ground corn tortillas with a south indian black eyed peas filling

stone ground corn tortillas with a south indian black-eyed peas filling

lettuce tortillas with south indian black eyed peas filling

Lettuce tortillas with south indian black-eyed peas filling


Filed under India, Mexico, Recipe

Cucumber sandwiches with spicy mint chutney and homemade tomato sauce

mint chutney and homemade ketchup tea sandwiches, backyard mint

graceful wisteria blossoms

It was a sunny evening a few days ago when I was wandering about the backyard that had come alive with colorful flowers. The rhubarb plants seemed to have sprung out of nowhere and the asparagus sprouts had become a bush! The wisteria blossoms hung gracefully from the roof of the garage. Our dining room looks out to the backyard and seeing this lush garden come alive always brings a smile to my face.

In my last post, I shared a recipe for almond breadcrumb fritters dipped in cardamom and vanilla honey syrup. It was divine. It was my sweet tribute to my mom and all moms. And thinking about my mom and food always reminds me of what she would make for my brother and I when we were kids. Sometimes I wonder if those memories glorify the food we ate as kids more so than they deserve. I don’t think so but they do say that memories are always rosier than reality.Every once in a while though, it feels great to relive the memories and cook something from your childhood. A couple of days ago, I did just this.

One of the traditions that Indians picked up from the British is that of afternoon tea. When we came back home from school, my mom would make us chai or bournvita with cookies (or biscuits as cookies are known in India). Every once in a while, she would have cucumber sandwiches as well. We always loved it when these simple treats showed up in our lunch boxes. They were also perfect for picnics, easy to make and carry and minimum mess to clean up. And I think I’m going to make these sandwiches again for brunch this weekend.

With my new found allergies, could I recreate this sandwich treat? And if I could, would they stand up to my childhood memories? I was excited to find that Udi’s makes gluten free, dairy free, and soy free breads. And I was pretty sure that I could make the green mint sauce and tomato ketchup that are essential in the cucumber sandwich.

The sauces were really easy to make. The bread was not too bad. You can’t compare it to wheat bread and you shouldn’t. I did find though that toasting the gluten free bread made it taste and hold up better. Obviously, if you are lucky enough to be able to eat gluten, go with your favorite bread. I will say, however, that these tea sandwiches are usually made with white bread, with the crust cut out.

Here’s the recipe and let’s hope this spell of wonderful weather in Seattle continues for a few months 🙂

cucumber sandwiches with mint chutney and homemade tomato sauce

Mint chutney, homemade tomato chutney, crisp slices of cucumber

Printer friendly recipe for cucumber sandwiches


White bread (how many ever slices you need – 2 slices will make 2 sandwiches)

1/2 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

For the spicy mint chutney

  • 3/4 cup of mint leaves (I harvested these from the mint plants that were all over the backyard!)
  • 1-2 thai green chili, optional
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to your taste)
  • juice of 1/2 a lime (feel free to substitute a lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coarsely ground cumin (I used a mortar and pestle)
  • 3-5 pitted dates (more if you added 1 or more chilis)

For the fresh homemade tomato sauce

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilli or powder
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey


Blend the mint chutney ingredients with the minimum amount of water needed, about 1/2 a cup. Taste and add more salt or lime juice as desired. If the chutney is too runny, add more mint leaves and blend.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan. Sizzle the cumin seeds and crushed red chili. Add the tomatoes, salt and honey and stir. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool and blend. Taste and adjust the salt and honey as desired.

Toast the bread if you like. Spread the mint chutney on one side and the tomato chutney on another. Add a single layer of sliced cucumber pieces. I add 4. Cut out the crust if you like. Slice diagonally or in other fun shapes. Enjoy with a cup of tea or a glass of sparkling wine. This is also a great family friendly recipe since you can simply switch out with regular bread for those who can eat it. Also, you can get kids to help assemble the sandwiches!

And were the sandwiches as good as my mom’s? I realized that it almost didn’t matter. What did was the reliving of them. The sauces were yummy and I used them as a dip the next day for corn chips. The bread was really not too bad, especially toasted, but for me didn’t quite replace the taste of wheat bread. I’m pretty sure though that I will make these again.

homemade spicy mint and tomato sauces with gluten dairy and soy free bread

Toasted gluten free bread with cucumber, spicy mint and homemade tomato sauces

beautiful iris


Filed under India, Recipe

Almond Breadcrumb Hearts with Cardamom and Vanilla Infused Honey

mothers day almond breadcrumb fritters in vanilla cardamom honey syrup

Almond breadcrumb fritters in honey infused with vanilla and cardamom

I’ve been thinking about what to make for my Mother’s Day post for the last two weeks! It has to be yummy and special and of course something that my mom would like. It was going to be something with okra and had the recipe all made up. But then I was researching an easy dessert for my cooking club’s Spanish night and came across this recipe for breadcrumb fritters in honey syrup reflecting monastery cooking. There were no pictures but I was instantly transported. I could see monks in long robes gathering up the rosemary for the honey syrup. And saving leftover bread to use in the fritters, ensuring no food went to waste. What was harder to imagine was monks having a decidedly delicious and un-austere meal, much less dessert. Go monks! I love a recipe with a story, don’t you?!

I made the Spanish breadcrumb fritters with rosemary infused honey syrup on Monday. It came out well. But on Tuesday morning, I had a light bulb moment. This recipe could be ‘Indianized’. I changed all my plans and got to work creating my take on an Indian version of the Spanish dessert. Here is what I ended up with.

It was divine. I think my mom will approve 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day!

Printer friendly version of this recipe

mother's day dessert almond bread fritters with vanilla cardamom honey syrup

A sweet treat for Mother’s Day

Vanilla and cardamom infused honey

Making vanilla and cardamom infused honey

almond breadcrumb fritters

Batter for the fritters

almond breadcrumb fritters

Pancake fritters


For the hearts/fritters

  • 3 eggs
  • 3-4 slices of white bread (I used a gluten, dairy and soy free bread from Udi’s)
  • 3-4 tablespoons finely ground almond meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill almond meal)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil for shallow frying

For the syrup

  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 2 inch stalk of vanilla bean (you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla bean or 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence)
  • 7-8 cardamom pods, slightly crushed to open up the pods
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Cinnamon (I used freshly ground ceylon cinnamon)
  • Mint leaves


Beat the eggs in a bowl. Make bread crumbs from 3 slices of bread. I simply tore off small pieces (very therapeutic if you’ve had a long day). You can also use a sharp chef’s knife and dice the bread. Add it to the eggs along with 3 tablespoons of almond meal. You should have a fairly thick batter. If it runs too easily, add more almond meal and or bread.

Heat the coconut oil in a skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Once the oil starts shimmering, pour half the batter and spread to make a 1/4 thick ‘pancake’. Once the pancake is golden brown on the bottom, flip and cook till the top is also golden brown. Put aside on paper towels so that the excess oil gets absorbed and the fritters crisps up. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Cut into hearts using cookie cutters or simply into squares or diamonds.

Next, prepare the honey. The easiest way to infuse honey is to open up a jar of honey, insert the vanilla bean and cardamom pods, close the lid and let sit for 2 weeks. If you can’t wait 2 weeks, the next best thing to do is to heat the honey, spices and water over low heat  in a thick bottomed pot for about 10-15 minutes so the flavors come together. Don’t allow the honey to bubble up. It is important to not heat the honey on high heat as it will change the flavor or worse, caramelize the honey. For even better control over the heat, use a double boiler or make your own: place the honey in a small pot and place that pot in a bigger pot with an inch of water.

Place the pancake fritters in the honey syrup making sure they all get coated. Arrange them on a plate or a bowl and pour any remaining syrup over them. Dust with freshly ground cinnamon and garnish with mint. Give mom a hug.

almond breadcrumb hearts for moms

Almond breadcrumb hearts dipped in vanilla, cardamom infused honey

almond breadcrumb fritters with ceylon cinnamon and mint garnish

With a dusting of freshly ground ceylon cinnamon and mint from the garden

Leave a comment

Filed under India, Recipe, Spanish

Chicken Tikka Masala – quintessential Indian dish?

The number one dish that comes to people’s minds when they think of Indian food is Chicken Tikka Masala. It’s on the menu of every Indian restaurant especially outside of India. And yet, this dish is not technically Indian. And in fact, chicken tikka masala enjoys the status of being Britain’s national dish!

Chicken Tikka Masala

The most popular story about where the chicken tikka masala comes from takes us back to the 1960’s to an Indian restaurant in the UK. Chicken tikka is a dry chicken dish – you can think of it as tandoori chicken made with smaller pieces of boneless chicken. A British diner at this Indian restaurant orders the chicken tikka, finds it too dry for his taste, and sends it back to the kitchen. The puzzled chef thinks on his feet, and cooks up a quick gravy with tomato sauce, yogurt and some spices. The diner loves his chicken tikka with gravy and chicken tikka masala is born.

Chicken tikka, fresh out of the oven

There is however an alternate story that suggests that chicken tikka masala was first made in India. Colleen Taylor Sen writes in Curry, A Global History that Kundan Lal Gujral, the owner of Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi, invented the tandoori chicken and butter chicken as a way of using up leftover tandoori chicken. Butter chicken, roasted tandoori chicken in rich tomato, butter and cream sauce is said to be a precursor to chicken tikka masala. Chicken tikka is basically the same as tandoori chicken. the only difference is that the pieces are boneless and they are usually skewered before cooking. Whatever the origins of the dish, these stories remind me how much the cuisine of any culture is influenced by so many others.

And so, when I asked my husband what he would like for dinner if I were to cook Indian food, he promptly said “A chicken curry would be awesome with some chapathis!” So I did make this for dinner and it was great.

So here’s my version of chicken tikka masala. I’ve made it without using heavy cream and it is still yummy. But by all means, if you prefer it with cream, use it. If you are curious, this recipe was husband approved.

Chicken Tikka Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon coriander, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon clove, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 lb chicken breast cut into 2-3 inch pieces

Spices for Chicken Tikka marinade

Mix the marinade ingredients together except for the chicken. Taste the marinade and add more salt or cayenne powder if desired. Keep in mind that the ‘masala’ gravy will tone down the flavor a bit. For tenderest results, marinate the meat for a few hours.

You have a couple of options on how to cook the tikka. You could skewer the chicken pieces and grill them (so the small pieces don’t fall through). You could broil them on medium for 3-4 minutes on each side or till just cooked. Or if you’re like me and can’t find your broiler pan, you can bake it at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes or till the chicken is just cooked. If it is still a little pink on the inside, that is fine. The chicken will simmer in the curry for a few minutes. Prepare the masala while the chicken is cooking.

If you prepare the chicken tikka ahead of time, remember to not overcook and cover tightly before refrigerating. This will ensure tender rather than chewy pieces of chicken in the masala.

Saute cumin and bay leaves and then onion

Cook down the tomato juice

Add yogurt or cream – I used Mimicreme’s cream substitute

Masala Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, medium dice 2 and juice the other
  • 2 jalapenos sliced lengthwise (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 cup of yogurt or cream (For non dairy version, use Almond/Cashew cream or thick coconut milk)

Heat the oil in a saucepan or wok over medium high heat for roughly 3 minutes or till a cumin seed thrown in lightly sizzles. Add the cumin and bay leaves and allow to sizzle for 10 seconds. Stir fry the onion and chilis till onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining spices. Give it a quick stir before adding the tomato juice. Once it gets to a boil, add the tomato. Cook down the sauce till thicker and there is a thin film of oil on top, about 15 minutes. Add salt to taste before adding the chicken tikka.

Taste and decide if you want to add yogurt. If the sauce is too spicy for you, adding yogurt will help. Simmer on low for a few minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rotis, chapatis, or naan.

Chicken Tikka Masala is ready to eat!


Filed under India, Recipe